– Natural Born Killer –
Torrens Knight (born 4 August 1969) is a Northern Ireland loyalist, who belonged to the North Antrim and Londonderry Brigade of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).
In 1993 he took part in the Greysteel massacre (in which eight civilians were shot dead) and the Castlerock killings (in which three civilians and a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) member were killed). After being convicted—along with three others—for the killings, he served seven years in the Maze Prison before his release in 2000 under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.
The views and opinions expressed in these pages/documentaries are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.
Knight spent his formative years living at his grandmother’s farmhouse in the rural area of Aghadowey after the split of his parent’s marriage. In adulthood he developed an addiction to poker gambling machines which resulted in his exposure of stealing money from his grandmother to fund his habit.
As a result of this he was asked to leave the home and subsequently moved to the mostly Protestant town of Portstewart. Living with a loyalist, he started drinking alcohol and involving himself with criminality.
His initial starting point within loyalism was selling a magazine for a loyalist prisoners association. He progressed to the ranks of the UDA and carried out acts like robberies and punishment beatings. Knight was part of a four-man UDA group sent to conduct an attack in revenge for the Shankill Road bombing.
Trick or Treat
Their target was the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel, where Knight, Stephen Irwin, Jeffrey Deeney and Brian McNeill shot eight dead (six Catholics and two Protestants). After the leading gunman, Irwin shouted “Trick or treat”, he and Deeney raked the bar with gunfire, while Knight, armed with a shotgun, stood at the door. 19 other people were injured. McNeill was the driver of one of the cars used after the shootings.
The attack was claimed by the “Ulster Freedom Fighters”, a covername used by the UDA.
Knight was given eight life sentences for his part in the killings and a further four more for the killing of an IRA member and three Catholic civilians in Castlerock, County Londonderry. He served seven years in the Maze Prison before paramilitary prisoners were granted a general release under the Good Friday Agreement in 2000.
Allegations of being an informant
According to David McKittrick, there had been rumours that Knight had been a police informer. Suspicions have been voiced by John Dallat, a member of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).
Dallat, who said he was in touch with police about Knight before the attacks in Greysteel and Castlerock, claimed they might have been prevented since it was known Knight was an extremist.
In 2000 Knight attracted the attention of staff at a bank where he was withdrawing large amounts of money from an account into which £50,000 a year was being paid. The bank’s concern was that Knight was involved in money laundering, but, when police were contacted, an assurance was given that everything was in order.
The money was said to be from a Scottish engineering firm, but the account was quickly closed down.
Police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan investigated Dallat’s claim that police had prior information about Greysteel, stating that there was no evidence this was the case. She also stated that Knight’s conviction and sentence led her to believe that he was not being protected by police, but added that it was beyond her remit to investigate whether or not he was a paid informer.
Alleged membership of Apprentice Boys
In 2008 Sinn Féin councillor Billy Leonard claimed that Knight was a member of the Kilrea branch of the Apprentice Boys. It was claimed that Knight took part in a parade in Kilrea and laid a wreath at the cenotaph in the village.
The Kilrea branch of the Apprentice Boys denied this as did Knight himself. A spokesman stated that Knight wasn’t a member and that they will demand an apology and explanation from Sinn Féin.
Knight also stated that John Dallat and Billy Leonard are taking part in a ‘hate campaign’ against him and challenged the nationalist politicians ‘to get off his back’
In October 2009 Knight was found guilty of assaulting two sisters in a bar in Coleraine. As a result, his early release licence was suspended and he was returned to jail.
He was later sentenced to four months jail for the assault. The judge said:
“The injuries sustained were consistent with a vicious attack on the two women and of particular concern in this case is that you kicked Ms Nicholl while she was on the ground, prone and unable to defend herself…. People who do that can expect no mercy or sympathy from these courts.
You acted as a bully when you approached these sisters. You lost control and lashed out”.
After Knight was returned to prison in 2009 it was revealed that Trevor Collins, a member of Jim Allister‘s Traditional Unionist Voice political party from Garvagh, was collecting signatures campaigning for his release from prison. The TUV said it would not be taking action against Collins for instigating the petition.
Knight was released on 6 August 2010
See: Castlerock Killings
See: Shankill Bombing
Confessions of serial killer Torrens Knight
Recording reveals loyalist’s life of drugs, crimes and sectarian murder
Notorious ‘trick or treat’ killer Torrens Knight has spoken frankly about his life of crime, drug abuse and sectarian murder.
The once defiant, gloating loyalist gunman says his life “spiralled out of control” when he joined the UFF and he knew the Greysteel massacre was wrong.
But the born-again Christian, 46, has also admitted that he relished being in the UDA/UFF, saying: “I was on a road to destruction but I liked it because it fuelled my anger.
“I looked upon the UDA as my family. It was sad in a way but that’s how I looked at the UDA.”
Co Londonderry man Knight – the most infamous of the Greysteel killers – has spoken candidly of his life as a terrorist in a 33 minute audio testimony made for a Christian group and broadcast online on the same site that published the testimony of Ballymena ‘glued lips’ killer Adrian Hayes.
Choking with emotion on occasions, Knight tells how he descended from being a poker machine addict who took cash from granny’s purse, to becoming a UDA robber and enforcer before joining a UFF murder squad.
Aged 24 he led the UFF gang that shouted “trick or treat” before raking the Rising Sun bar with machine gun fire in Halloween 1993.
A 19-year-old woman and an 81-year-old man were among the eight people mercilessly killed in the sectarian slaughter at the village pub on Saturday, October 30.
Following his arrest TV pictures of an unrepentant Knight screaming abuse and defiance outside Limavady courthouse were beamed around the world.
Bible-basher Knight now says that his snarling, hardman stance was all a front.
He planned to go on the run but says he knew in his heart the atrocity in the pub was wrong and allowed police to arrest him.
Speaking at a Gospel meeting, Knight began by telling fellow Christians of his early days, living with his God-fearing granny on a farm in Aghadowey when his parents’ marriage broke up.
Knight’s life began to go wrong when he became addicted to poker machines at a local pub. He took cash from a purse where his granny kept money for church missions and his gran and furious dad told him to pack his bags.
He moved to Portstewart with a pal from a hardline loyalist background who had been told to leave his family home when he started going out with a Catholic girl.
“I went to Portstewart to live. I started drinking and going out. I lost the influence and fear of my father.
“One thing led to another. I had anger issues. I would say I had a chip on my shoulder and I got involved in criminality.
“A few years later I got involved in an organisation. I started off just going round the doors selling magazines for the LPA (Loyalist Prisoners Association) and lifting money. I enjoyed it.
“Then I progressed. I moved up into the UDA, going round the doors wasn’t enough. I started doing robberies and beatings, things like that. But that still wasn’t enough. I wanted to go further.
“I progressed to the UFF, which was really the murder teams of the loyalist paramilitaries. My life just spiralled out of control.
“I joined the organisation to fight against the IRA who I saw as the enemy and it just progressed and progressed. It was a scary time.
“I got involved in shooting and ended up killing not only IRA men but also killing innocent people. That was a thing I never ever thought I would do. I never planned it.
“But that’s just sin. Once you go down the road of sin, it sucks you in, it can just take over.
“It was just like I was going down a road of destruction. And I liked it because it fuelled my anger,” said the man who was also jailed for the killings of four men in Castlerock in 1993.
He said he looked on the UDA as his family.
“I was part of something. I felt special. I had boys who would watch my back and I would do the same for them.”
Knight talks about “eyeing up” a Provo for assassination for a few days prior to the Greysteel murders but he now thanks God that the man did not turn up.
“Then the Shankill bomb happened and orders came down the line something big was going down, that we were to cancel what we were doing. And I was asked to take charge of the team that were going to carry this out.
“The place that was picked was the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel. I didn’t question it.”
He said he would have done anything he was asked to do by UDA leaders at that point.
“At that time we were so, in a way brainwashed, that’s being truthful. We believed what we were doing was right.”
After the pub massacre Knight considered going on the run but instead effectively gave himself up.
“I had a gut feeling when the ‘job’ was carried out that something wasn’t right.
“I was actually ready to go on the run and go into hiding but there was something in here [he thumps on his heart a number of times] that didn’t sit right with me.
“I says ‘I’ll man up’ because I knew they [police] were looking for me. A pile of my mates had been lifted. I saw the police in Macosquin and I just stood and they took me and another chap away.”
Knight said he had been interrogated by CID at Castlereagh Holding Centre previously and regarded it just as a game which he enjoyed. He never thought the cops would ‘get under his skin’ but this time was different.
He added: “I tried to put on this hard exterior, I tried to justify it but deep down I knew it wasn’t right, these innocent people, it wasn’t right.
“And I think that’s what helped break me too because I knew it wasn’t right.”
He talks about spending time in the Maze jail on remand after “wrecking the Crum (Crumlin Road Gaol)” and finding drugs in easy supply.
“It was a scary place. It was a mad place. It was full of mad men. I thank God he brought me through it all.”
Knight says he “dabbled” in drugs prior to going into the Maze but cannabis became a way of life in jail.
“Whenever we went into prison unfortunately drugs were readily available and that’s the way we put in our days in, smoking weed and getting stoned.”
The multiple killer, who was given 12 life sentences, said: “I suppose it [the drugs] were a way of us dealing with what we were going through because it was traumatic, our lives were just turned upside down. It was a form of escapism.”
In his testimony Knight, who is understood to work for a joinery firm on the North Coast, tells how he found God while serving time in prison.
He says his partner Carolyn also came to the Lord after seeing how he had changed. At times he chokes with emotion as he talks about his life and the role of God in his life. The killer admits that on occasions he has backslid, saying “he took the hand off the plough”.
After being given early release under the Good Friday Agreement terms he was later returned to jail for assaulting two women and disorderly behaviour in a Coleraine bar. But he says he now thanks God he was jailed for a second time.
Choking up, he says: “I had drifted away from God and that’s why I got into the mess that I did. I was one of those men who the Bible talks about, a man who had taken his hand off the plough.
“Since then I cry a lot. God touched me in a special way. God has had to break me a few times but he hasn’t broke me to destroy, he has broke me to build me up again, to teach me.”
The audio of Torrens Knight’s full testimony was recently uploaded to the website of Set Free Prisons Bangor.
See Belfast Telegraph for full story